Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Short Piece from my new notes...

Hey guys, here's a short piece I wrote for my new set of notes on memorized deck magic. It's about four-of-a-kind productions. I'll be going into more depth on this subject in my lecture, as it's a piece I use quite often. I hope you find it an interesting read, and if you do, please let me know. Also, if you have any questions, about this, the memorized deck in general, or about my magic at all, just ask.

Here it is...

Production Values

Let’s talk about four-of-a-kind productions. Many are done with a specific four-of-a-kind (often aces or court cards), and with little or no audience participation. One notable exception is Larry Jennings’ ‘Any Ace Called For’ wherein he allows the audience to determine the order in which the aces are produced. This, I think, is a better approach. Not only does it heighten the effect, but it creates an opportunity for dialogue and interaction between you and your audience. For me, one thing that makes close-up magic special is this opportunity for a truly interactive performance. It’s so easy to get people involved that it almost seems nonsensical not to do so.

Enter the memorized deck.

With it, you can perform a four-of-a-kind production where the audience gets to choose which four-of-a-kind to produce. Even more, the audience can also determine the order in which they get produced (a la Jennings). This heightens the effect even further. It also allows you to sharpen your jazzing and estimation abilities. And, I believe, it brings you more into the moment. Jazzing, by its very nature, forces you not to be complacent or on auto-pilot when performing; it instead keeps you focused on what you’re doing. It can be a daunting task at first, for you now have to juggle both the method and the effect simultaneously. But, with practice, it can be most rewarding, and lead to effects difficult to duplicate. Further, the beautiful thing about jazzing and using estimation with a memorized deck is that you’re utilizing two powerful tools with a safety net beneath you. If you’re estimation is off, you’ll immediately know how far off you are and begin to generate strategies to get you back on track. Having this kind of insurance against failure can actually allow your estimation to improve, for now there isn’t that same level of ‘necessity for perfection’.

Here’s a quick example (remember, I use the Tamariz stack). Let’s say I’m performing this routine, and I have someone request the four Eights. I immediately ask, ‘Club, Heart, Spade, or Diamond?’ while thinking of their positions as I say them (33,14,22,29). Let’s say they respond ‘Heart.’ Now, I know that ‘Eight of Hearts’ spells with 13 letters, so if I spell it, the next card is the Eight of Hearts. That’s one option. If I don’t go that route, I might get a break above the Eight, centralize it with a cut, and dribble force it on the person who named it. Immediately I’ve generated interaction, with an audience member finding the first card. After forcing the eight, I would estimate getting the cards back to 1-52 order.

That’s one. Let’s say the Club is named next. I know it’s the 33rd in the deck. I might cut it to second from the face, preparing for a Houdini/Erdnase change. As you ask the person who named the Club if they have a good imagination, begin the change, stopping when you’ve completed the transformation but not yet revealed it. Ask them to imagine the card slowly changing. Flex your hand covering the face of the deck just a bit, slowly revealing the card to have changed. Performing the change in a slow manner such as this can be just as effective as a more visual change. Give it a try.

That’s two. Let’s say the Spade is named next. I know it’s 22nd in the stack. I would determine where in the deck the Heart is given the deck’s current state (in this case, since the 35th card is on top, the Eight of Spades is 39th from the top, since the Eight of Hearts has been removed). I usually try to dead-cut this third card, using pure estimation (39th is a good number to cut to, since it means cut ¾ deep). Remember, you’ve got three chances. There’s the face card of the upper packet, the top card of the lower packet, or the second-from-the-top card of the lower packet (and a double lift). Also remember, if you’re off, you know immediately how far away your target card is, and can immediately begin contemplating strategies for recovery. I would say I hit the card about 80-85%.

That’s three. The fourth card, in this case, is the Eight of Diamonds (card 29 in the Tamariz stack). From the last production, I would complete the cut, which would bring the 23rd card to the top. This puts the last Eight 7th from the top. At this point, I might either go for the psychological stop effect, or I would cut the Eight to the top and perform Annemann’s effect ‘A Card In Hand’. If you’re not familiar with this effect, it can be found in Card College, vol 1, p. 133. COLES NOTES VERSION: Double lift to show indifferent card, turn card over, giving them the eight. Have them stick it anywhere in the deck, still holding onto it. When they do, tell them you hope the card above or below where they stabbed is the Eight. Check each, and when neither is it, re-assemble the deck, snap your fingers, and have them look at the card they’re holding. Mission complete.

I like think of it almost as a ‘multiple selection’ routine.  I strongly encourage you to seek out other’s work on the ‘multiple selection’ plot. For a start, Paul Cummins and Doc Eason’s ‘Fusillade’ or Paul Cummins ‘FASDIU 1’ contain great information. Also, Darwin Ortiz’s ‘9 Card Location’ is in ‘Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table’.

Assemble and learn as many changes, productions, little twists and turns with the cards, and revelations as possible. The more tools you have at your disposal, the more successful your jazzing will become.

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